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Here's how we can take a couple steps back from the brink of default:

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Published on Jul 29, 2011

First, raise the debt ceiling until December 31, 2012, without it being contingent on cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or increases in taxes or cuts in taxes or cuts in spending.

The attempt to resolve all these issues at once as a moment of reckoning arrives was never a good idea. It guarantees that the people we were sent here to represent will lose -- either in the details of a rushed grand bargain or to the consequences of default.

Take the debate to the American people in the next election. Ask the American people if they want cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, increases in taxes, what kind of cuts in spending, what kind of jobs programs.

For those who say that's what we were sent here to do, claim your victory. You came here and you changed the terms of debate, but you lose the debate if America defaults.

You win if you bring this debate in every district in America in the 2012 election. And when you go home people will thank you for being able to focus America's attention on these fiscal issues.

But you may be surprised to learn that the American people did not want us to burn down the house in an argument over the height of the ceiling.

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